By Amye Anderson
COOKEVILLE – The College of Engineering at Tennessee Tech is now getting a $3 million appropriation from the state budget, not only for the 2018-2019 budget year, but every year. The Tennessee legislature has passed Gov. Bill Haslam’s budget, which included an additional $13 million in funding for Tennessee Tech; resulting in a total of more than $51 million in state appropriations for the university.
Part of that additional funding is a new, annual $3 million boost in recurring funds specifically designated for the university’s College of Engineering.
That funding, Rep. Ryan Williams says, does come with a few parameters for use but will help the university continue to provide quality education for the students of one of its largest colleges of study.
Williams, who has worked persistently in recent years to secure this appropriation, says the money can be used for various engineering programs, operational expenses, or to fund or increase funding for salaries of those within the engineering department – a factor that may boost the university’s odds of attracting and retaining engineering faculty and staff.
That, in turn, has a noticeable impact on the economic development of the community and the region; as many industrial leaders have cited Tennessee Tech as one of the key factors for choosing to locate in Cookeville and Putnam County.
“We know how important talent is as an economic driver, and Tennessee Tech has been critical in the creation of approximately 3,000 jobs in the Upper Cumberland in the past couple of years,” Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham said. “We need to graduate more individuals ready to take on the roles related to engineering and technology careers. We appreciate the support Ryan Williams, Sen. Paul Bailey and Gov. Haslam have shown to both Tech as a whole, and to our College of Engineering.”
Williams says he began championing for additional funding for the university in 2011 after finding a line item in the Governor’s budget that was an appropriation to help bolster the engineering department at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville.
Wanting to level the playing field, he says, Williams began working to secure assistance for the university within his own district. He drafted a budget amendment, asking for $3 million in funding for Tech’s College of Engineering.
After several attempts to secure the requested amount of funding for Tech’s engineers, Williams finally found favor among his colleagues and the $3 million line-item was approved as part of the state’s budget for 2018-2019.
“It’s something that’s going to impact generations. It would be the equivalent of someone giving Tennessee Tech a $100 million endowment … It’s unheard of.” – Rep. Ryan Williams
Along with the engineering funds, additional monies for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning July 1, include:
• $1.3 million in outcome-based funding under the Complete College Act’s funding formula
• $750,000 to recognize Tech’s Carnegie classification as a doctoral institution
• $500,000 for Tech’s Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center (second year of a three-year funding)
• $1.3 million in funds for a salary pool increase (Tech is expected to fund the remainder of the mandated 2.5 percent salary pool increase, $934,854)
• $6.3 million for facilities maintenance